Get us in your inbox

Illustrations: Peter BollingerCheap Eats Challenge

Mini challenge: Cheap beachfront food

Find lunch or a snack for small change along Chicago’s lakefront.


Whether there for a stroll, soccer game or sunbathing session, a day on the lakefront gets our stomachs grumbling. Luckily, cheap fare’s as ample as the sand.

Al pastor huarache at an unnamed stand (north end of the Montrose Beach soccer fields, near the Montrose exit on Lake Shore Dr) How this dish could be executed so well without an on-site spit is a mystery, but this stand has mastered the art of griddling and steaming a huarache (a thick, oval-shaped masa patty stuffed with bean paste), coating it with mild red or green salsa and loading it with chunks of caramelized pineapple, meaty roast pork, cilantro, onions and queso fresco. $3.50, Saturday–Monday only.

Chorizo taco at Jimmy’s Food Stand (west end of the Montrose Beach soccer fields, near the Montrose exit on Lake Shore Dr) Even for two bucks, the chewy steak tacos and their bland chicken counterparts at this stand aren’t worth it. The chorizo, on the other hand, is crispy, spicy and heaped onto the double layer of tortillas. $2, Saturday–Monday only.

Hot dog at Danny’s Hot Dog Stand (W Touhy Ave and N Sheridan Rd) Vienna Beef dog, S. Rosen’s bun, neon relish, tomato, onion, celery salt and sport peppers. Danny’s does it just like everyone else, except Danny’s does it a dollar or two cheaper than the rest of the vendors dotting the waterfront. $2.

Mango milk paleta at any ice-pop cart (find them circling the lakefront path) With all the griping about Chicago’s lack of street food, it’s easy to forget that nearly every ice-pop vendor pushing a cart down the lakefront path has more than a few locally made paletas tucked among the mass-produced Blue Bunny bars. Our favorite: the creamy mango milk from Paleteria La Reina, the mobile vendors’ Albany Park headquarters. $2.

    You may also like

      The best things in life are free.

      Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

      Loading animation
      Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

      🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

      Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!